EFF leader Julius Malema and his supporters are no strangers to appearing in the dock.
The charges have spanned the length and breadth of topical South African issues: from land, to media freedom, to corruption and violence.
Most recently, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) declined to prosecute Malema on corruption charges related to the On Point tender corruption case. But as revealed on Sunday, allegations that he had benefited from corruption have not gone away.
As the questions around Malema’s past continue to swirl, here is a round-up of all the charges, past and present, faced by the EFF’s most senior leaders.
Early in September, the NPA said it had decided to prosecute Malema and EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi for the alleged assault of a police officer. The incident reportedly occurred at the funeral of struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in April 2018 and was caught on CCTV. The officer opened a case against Malema and Ndlozi.
This followed a threat by AfriForum to bring an application in court to force the NPA to decide on whether it was going to prosecute the case or not.
The two EFF leaders appeared in court on the charges of common assault on November 21, 2019. Outside court, Malema denied assaulting the cop, saying: “If I had laid a hand on him, I would have panel-beated him.”
Yet, video evidence released by AfriForum showed the self-styled “commander-in-chief” and his spokesperson in a scuffle with the cop – evidence that appeared to support the State’s version.
Assault of journalist
EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu is expected to appear in court later this week for allegedly assaulting a journalist.
The NPA charged Shivambu with common assault after he was caught on video with his hands around the neck of Netwerk24 journalist Adrian de Kock on March 20, 2018. De Kock had approached Shivambu in the parliamentary precinct for comment, and he allegedly attacked him. Shivambu apologised, saying he did not know that De Kock was a journalist, but charges had already been laid.
Following repeated attacks on journalists on social media by the EFF, the South Africa National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) went to the Equality Court to stop the party from intimidating, harassing or assaulting journalists.
Sanef argued Malema’s comments likening several journalists to the “Stratcom” disinformation campaign of the apartheid government, and his calls to his supporters to “crush the enemy”, among other remarks, had resulted in attacks and even death threats against journalists by EFF supporters.
But the application was dismissed in October because the EFF’s conduct did not meet the definition of hate speech.
Following the release of a damning report into the collapse of VBS Mutual Bank, several articles emerged linking EFF leaders to the proceeds of monies looted from it. The Daily Maverick ran several pieces purporting to show how the EFF’s leaders had benefited from monies stolen from the bank and its beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, the Hawks were investigating allegations of fraud and corruption related to the VBS “heist”, as the investigation commissioned by the South African Reserve Bank showed.
It is not clear whether the EFF is being investigated, but Hawks head Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya told News24 recently action in the case against the VBS looters was imminent.
For years, Malema has faced allegations he had benefited personally from tender corruption in Limpopo during his time as ANC Youth League leader. He was charged with crimes connected to allegations that he received benefits like luxury cars and a farm from tender payments to On Point Engineering of which his family trust was a shareholder.
The case was struck off the role when his co-accused fell sick, resulting in several postponements.
But in November, the State indicated it would be pursuing the On Point case, but it would not be charging Malema again.
As News24 revealed this week, the allegations against him are damning: A former employee from On Point alleged in an affidavit that Malema’s benefits from the Limpopo tender scheme went beyond cash, cars and farms. It was alleged that he also travelled in a chartered jet, holidayed in Zimbali and had his legal fees covered by Limpopo tenderpreneurs.
In late November, Malema and security official Adriaan Snyman were charged with illegally discharging a firearm at the EFF’s birthday rally in 2018. The incident was recorded on video, and Malema appeared in court in East London shortly after being charged. He faces five charges: Unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition, discharging a firearm in a built-up area or public space, failure to take reasonable precaution to person or property, and reckless endangerment to person or property.
Malema faces charges in both Bloemfontein and Newcastle over calling on people to occupy vacant land. The State argues this was done in contravention of the Riotous Assemblies Act.
The cases were on hold while Malema challenged the constitutionality of the Riotous Assemblies Act on the grounds that it was apartheid-era legislation. But the High Court in Pretoria rejected that challenge in July this year. Malema has since indicated he would take his challenge to the Constitutional Court.